Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Gary Hawkins firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUSTA -- No one has yet come up with a formula for beating the Cony girls basketball team. But Oxford Hills has come close.
Monday night, the Vikings held a six-point lead over the unbeaten Rams three minutes into the third quarter. And their zone had the Rams frustrated, just as it did when the Rams beat the Vikings by a point last month in South Paris.
The Rams answered the call with a 11-0 run that put them in front for good and pulled away for a 52-33 win that was tougher than the final score sounds. Cony improved to 14-0 in the Class A Division of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference while Oxford Hills fell to 6-8.
The Rams got huge games from their big three -- Mia Diplock, Melanie Guzman and Josie Lee. Diplock finished with 10 points and six assists while Guzman scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Lee scored a game-high 15 points and hauled in nine rebounds.
"They played a great little 2-3 zone and a 1-2-2," Guzman said. "They always play physical against us."
After jumping to a 12-4 first-quarter lead, the Rams went cold and found themselves tied at 17 at the half. They committed 13 of their 18 turnovers in the first two quarters, often trying to force passes inside.
"We definitely didn't have a flow in that first half," Cony coach Karen Magnusson said. "I think our girls were pretty excited. It was kind of like a hot potato for a little bit in the first half."
Led by juniors Abbie Eastman (10 points) and Alex Rowe (12), the Vikings scored the first six points of the second half to take a 23-17 and force a Cony timeout. The Rams exploited the middle of the Viking zone, hitting Guzman for three baskets. Lee had a layup off an assist from Diplock and Emily Sanford drained a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 28-23 and force an Oxford Hills timeout.
"In the beginning we were standing still a lot, so we had to flash high and work the middle," Guzman said. "It was wide open."
Eastman canned a 3-pointer from the left side to make it 33-28 Cony early in the fourth quarter, but the Rams went on another run 11-0 and force the Vikings defense into a man-to-man.
"That's really not our strength," Oxford Hills coach Nate Pelletier said. "That is their strength. They're very quick at every position, they can handle the ball at every position, so when we get down like that it's tough for us."
Cony has four games remaining, including a tough road test next week against Mt. Ararat. The unbeaten record has become a factor.
"It weighs on our mind all the time," Guzman said. "We can't take any team lightly at this point. We've got to play every game like it's a big game."
Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638